South Africa: farm violence, enough is enough; Two recent incidents of white farmers throwing their black workers to lions or driving their pick-up vans over them, have outraged the whole nation, particularly Cosatu, the largest trade union in the country. Gift Sipho Siso reports.Cosatu, the South African trade union, has angrily condemned the "outrageous" sentence of a R36,000 fine and a two-year suspended jail term imposed on a white farmer who killed his former black worker by dragging him alongside his pick-up van until he fell under its wheels and had his head crushed.
The farmer, Gert Maritz, an Afrikaner from the Mpumalanga province in eastern South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. , claimed that he had been drunk at the time of the incident and did not intend to kill his worker. (Afrikaners are Dutch descendants DESCENDANTS. Those who have issued from an individual, and include his children, grandchildren, and their children to the remotest degree. Ambl. 327 2 Bro. C. C. 30; Id. 230 3 Bro. C. C. 367; 1 Rop. Leg. 115; 2 Bouv. n. 1956.
2. in South Africa and form the bulk of the commercial farming population in the country).
"I merely wanted to show him my disapproval of his habits of not coming to work sometimes after a weekend beer binge. It was unfortunate that he fell under the wheels and got crushed," he claimed.
In passing sentence, Judge Johan Els, presiding pre·side
intr.v. pre·sid·ed, pre·sid·ing, pre·sides
1. To hold the position of authority; act as chairperson or president.
2. To possess or exercise authority or control.
3. in the high court in Nelspruit, said he had taken into account the fact that Maritz had been drunk at the time of the incident.
"I also looked into the fact that after running over his worker, Maritz returned to the scene to inspect the damage he had caused. That alone showed he had remorse for what he had done," the judge, himself an Afrikaner, said.
The facts of the case were that Jotham Mandlazi, of Mozambican origin, had approached his "boss" with the intention of asking him for a cigarette. As he got nearer the pick-up, Maritz grabbed him and drove the pick-up away, dragging him in the process until he fell under the wheels.
Mandlazi's family has since indicated they would sue the farmer for well over R1m for the loss of their breadwinner bread·win·ner
One whose earnings are the primary source of support for one's dependents.
bread·winning n. .
The sentence was an "outrage", said Cosatu in a statement dripping with sheer anger. The trade union warned that Zimbabwe's farm invasions could look like a Sunday school Sunday school, institution for instruction in religion and morals, usually conducted in churches as part of the church organization but sometimes maintained by other religious or philanthropic bodies.
In England during the 18th cent. picnic if the anger swelling among farm workers in South Africa was not urgently addressed.
In fact, the sentence in mid-February outraged the whole nation, especially coming on the heels of the arraignment A criminal proceeding at which the defendant is officially called before a court of competent jurisdiction, informed of the offense charged in the complaint, information, indictment, or other charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or as otherwise permitted of another white man, (this time, a construction company owner) who was accused of beating up a troublesome black worker and later feeding him to lions.
The incident happened in the Limpopo province on the northen border with Zimbabwe. Initially thought to be a farmer, Mark Scott-Crossley and three of his black employees--Simon Mathebula, Richard Mathebula, and Robert Mnisi--who used a farm in the small town of Hoedspruit as a base for his contruction company, was arrested by police after admitting that he had beaten up Nelson Chisela and then thrown him into a lion breading project 15 km from his farm.
The police later recovered what was believed to be the remains of the 38-year-old Chisela. They found a skull and part of his legs, together with pieces of clothing positively identified as belonging to Chisela. Scott-Crossley and his two workers, the Mathebula brothers, have been indicted INDICTED, practice. When a man is accused by a bill of indictment preferred by a grand jury, he is said to be indicted. for murder while charges against Robert Mnisi were dropped for lack of evidence. The case may take a year to complete because of the huge backlog of cases.
Ronel Otto, a police spokesperson, said witnesses had told the police that Scott-Crossley had beaten up Chisela, tied him up, drove him to the Mokwalo White Lion
The white lion is occasionally found in wildlife reserves in South Africa and is a rare color mutation of the Kruger subspecies of lion (Panthera leo krugeri). Breading Project, and threw him over a fence into a lion enclosure, Crossley and his three workers then allegedly watched as a lion mauled Chisela and dragged him into the bushes. Chisela had recently been fired after a dispute with Scott-Crossley, and he had gone back to the farm to retrieve his clothing and other belongings when the incident occurred. An outraged minister of labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, said the "perpetrators of this dastartdly act" had no place in South Africa's new democracy.
But Cosatu, referring to Jotham Mandlazi case in Mpumalanga, issued a statement, saying: "Cosatu is not surprised as this case is typical of the contemptuous con·temp·tu·ous
Manifesting or feeling contempt; scornful.
con·temptu·ous·ly adv. way employers and the courts continue to treat black farm workers as if their lives are worth nothing.
"Over and over again, courts have reduced charges 1. The smaller of the two propelling charges available for naval guns.
2. Charge employing a reduced amount of propellant to fire a gun at short ranges as compared to a normal charge. See also normal charge. of murder to culpable homicide
"A claim that the accused was drunk, or testimony from a frightened worker that his boss is a good employer, is enough to persuade the courts to impose the lightest possible sentence. This case is a typical example. The employers claimed to be 'distraught' by the incident yet then proceeded to try and cover it up."
Zwelinzima Vavi Zwelinzima Vavi is General Secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and Vice-Chairperson of the Millennium Labour Council.
Vavi was born on a farm in Hanover, Northern Cape, with a mineworker father, four brothers and seven sisters. , Cosatu's general secretary, along with Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, visited farm workers in KwaZulu Natal Natal, city, Brazil
Natal (nətäl`), city (1991 pop. 606,887), capital of Rio Grande do Norte state, NE Brazil, just above the mouth of the Potengi River. , and heard many reports about how farm workers were being attacked and even beaten to death and how the police were refusing to respond to their cries for help.
"The police, especially the reservists, are often farmers themselves, or act in collusion An agreement between two or more people to defraud a person of his or her rights or to obtain something that is prohibited by law.
A secret arrangement wherein two or more people whose legal interests seemingly conflict conspire to commit Fraud with them," Cosatu claimed. "The courts and the judicial system are totally discredited in the eyes of rural workers. Employers are allowed to act with impunity IMPUNITY. Not being punished for a crime or misdemeanor committed. The impunity of crimes is one of the most prolific sources whence they arise. lmpunitas continuum affectum tribuit delinquenti. 4 Co. 45, a; 5 Co. 109, a. . The horrific act of throwing a worker alive to lions is just an extreme example of what goes on day after day on our country's farms."
The trade union continued: "Rightwing political parties in the past have created a great hullabaloo about the murder of white farmers. But the same parties are strangely silent about the murder of farm workers. While Cosatu condemns revenge killings by workers, it understands the desperation many workers face when they have to work and live in such poverty and squalor squal·or
A filthy and wretched condition or quality.
[Latin squlor, from squ , with the ever-present threat of violent attack.
"Ten years after our democratic break-through, farm workers have no democracy, no freedom, no human rights. They are still treated as slaves and humiliated hu·mil·i·ate
tr.v. hu·mil·i·at·ed, hu·mil·i·at·ing, hu·mil·i·ates
To lower the pride, dignity, or self-respect of. See Synonyms at degrade. every day. South Africa's farms are ticking bombs. Unless we can transform the lives of farm workers, we will see an explosion of anger which will make the situation in Zimbabwe look like a Sunday school picnic." Cosatu warned.
In fact, this is not the first time that such incidents have happened since the end of apartheid in 1994. Two years ago in Welkom, the gold mining capital of the Free State province, a white man tied a black worker to the back of his pick-up van and drove around the town for more than 5 km, dragging his body on the ground. Pieces of his flesh and blood lay strewn strew
tr.v. strewed, strewn or strewed, strew·ing, strews
1. To spread here and there; scatter: strewing flowers down the aisle.
2. on the concrete tarmac.
In 2001, a white store owner in the Limpopo province painted a black boy with white paint after he was caught stealing For meanings outside baseball, see .
In baseball, a runner is charged, and the fielders involved are credited, with a time caught stealing when the runner attempts to advance or lead off from one base to another without the ball being batted and then is tagged out by a fielder from the shop.
In the same year, a white farmer drove his pick up van over his worker after a heated argument. The man died on the spot.
Again, in 2001, a young black girl with her younger sister strapped to her back, was shot and killed by a farmer in Benoni, near Johannesburg, for allegedly trespassing on his property. The young girl, daughter of one of the farm labourers, was walking past the "master's house" on a foot path to the labourer's compound.
But over the last three years, about 500 white farmers have been killed on their farms by people described as "common criminals", but the farmers union, AGRIC-SA, thinks there is more to it than meets the eye.
In 2003, white farmers in Limpopo province caught a black boy and accused him of stealing from one of them. They beat him up and ordered him to eat his own faeces.
Last year, some white youths caught several black boys hunting in one of their family farms in the Limpopo province. They shot one of them as the rest fled. The white youths then took the body of the black boy and threw it into a crocodile-infested river.
"Enough is enough", says Cosatu. It wants action from the government now.